With little warning a few weeks back, Plant Love House shut down their Elmhurst, Queens location shortly after opening up a new branch in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn that immediately gained an equal love in its new borough. The Queens love came from a community of regulars that had made this restaurant a part of their Thai rounds almost from day one.
If you walk by the shop on Whitney Avenue today and did not hear the news, it would be hard to know anything had changed. The bright yellow awning remains blank and the colorful chalkboard inside remains the most prominent design feature. Only the space has changed hands is now called Dek Sen, a play on words that means something like a small child with noodles.
The good news for Queens patrons is that they do have a lot of potential. The kitchen does not seem to be quite as sophisticated as its predecessor, but it is in its first days and has room to grow. The noodles contain good broths and hearty portions. The new team has also continued the theme of providing many dessert options.
A nice start to the meal is with the fried fish cake ($6.95, below), a slightly spongy curry nugget that is served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. This is a large batch creation, so it comes through that these have been reheated, but this would be the case no matter what, unless you happened to come in when they were first completed. At the time we went, these were on the chalkboard but not the main menu as of yet.
The menu puts its focus on noodles, so we decided to do the same on our first visit. Moo toon ($8.95, below) is described on the menu simply as "slow cooked pork" but comes in a deep brown and satisfyingly sweet broth that can be spruced up with vinegar, fish sauce, and dried Thai red pepper as desired.
Every bowl is also offered the chance to choose which type of noodle you want. On offer for the four soup choices are rice noodles, flat noodles, angel hair (seen below), egg noodles, and instant noodles.
In what seems to be a spreading craze, New York City now has another bowl of good boat noodles. The nam took moo ($8.95, below) was chosen with rice noodles and has a healthy portion of bean sprouts. The broth is deep and good, but ultimately needs a good portion of the add-ons mentioned. Once I had added adequate spoons of these, I was thoroughly satisfied with my bowl.
As described, the big board from Plant Love House remains, as well as a focus on dessert. The main option seems to have changed from Thai toast to something called the rainbow crepe cake, a $7.25 slice. Maybe next time.
Dek Sen still has a little way to go to fully fill out the shoes of its predecessor, but the filling of a big hole in the Thai restaurant scene of Elmhurst was done quickly. This is only good news.